LSU enters their matchup against the New Mexico Lobos as a heavy favorite for good reason. A squad that ranked last offensively a season ago, while electing to retain the same offensive coordinator this season, the Tigers’ defense has the chance to shine bright again in this one.
The Bayou Bengals are fresh off of a crucial SEC victory over Mississippi State where their defense showed up in a big way, but this offense the Lobos run is a tad different. The ability to run the ball better gives this LSU defense a different angle to prepare for.
Here are a few things to monitor ahead of the Tigers’ Saturday night matchup:
The Lobos have already seen 11 players record a rush this season, starting with running back Sherod White. White, who leads this team in rushing yards, could be the focal point of this New Mexico offensive attack Saturday night.
It’s a completely different scheme for defensive coordinator Matt House. Coming off of a beautifully executed game plan against the Mississippi State ‘air raid’ offense, House will now look to slow down a run game that also runs a triple option style of offense.
Along with White, Lobos quarterback Miles Kendrick is also effective in the run game. One of the team’s top rushers, the Kansas transfer will be someone to monitor given his dual-threat ability.
Despite the Lobos having a subpar offense, their defense is what keeps them afloat. Defensive coordinator Rocky Long and head coach Danny Gonzales fit like a glove with their schematic approach that has them ranked amongst the best defenses in college football.
Led by safety Jerrick Reed, leads this squad in total tackles, they have guys who can compete from all three levels. The Tigers will be in for a test in the passing game given the Lobos’ ability to slow down that aspect of their opponents’ offense.
But this also could give LSU the opportunity to get a big night from their running back room. With John Emery returning last week, we saw this coaching staff do their best to work him in slowly, but against a New Mexico squad who isn’t as effective in their run defense, Brian Kelly could look to rotate their backs even more to see what they’re working with.
Miles Kendrick - Quarterback
As mentioned, Kendrick has the ability to use his legs exceptionally well when the pocket collapses on him. This Lobos offensive line hasn’t quite given him excess time to create plays in the passing game which explains his 31 rushing attempts through three games.
Sacked 10 times already this year, it’s a mixture between poor offensive line play paired with Kendrick holding the ball too long at times. This LSU defensive line could use Saturday night as a chance to explore their depth to see which rotations are more effective.
Containing Kendrick will be of the utmost importance. Though his stats may not jump off the page, a mobile quarterback has proven to give the Tigers trouble at times, which makes keeping Kendrick in check Saturday night that much more important.